Northwest NEWS

July 31, 2000




Luxury, the drive that glides and many creature comforts describe the 2000 Cadillac Deville DHS.
   This four-door, large sedan is designed for comfort and ease, with power to spare. Even though Cadillac has redesigned the Deville to be two inches narrower and three inches shorter that the 1999 model, its wheelbase is actually 1.5 inches longer and the interior space is as roomy.
   The Deville has a sloped front with a grill and emblem and boxy rear design with the large vertical tail lights that speak Cadillac. The Michelin all season tires and 16" chrome wheels are standard. It looks, and is, solid. The doors are large and open wide for easy access. My test model came in a white diamond color with neutral shale leather interior.
   The award-winning North-star system with its integrated powertrain and chassis system has been redesigned to get great mileage with regular fuel (a savings at the pump), and better highway mileage, increased by 2 mpg to 18 mpg.
   The 4.6L 32 value, 275hp, V8 engine delivers steady, strong power. The 4-speed automatic transmission is smooth and seamless.
   When you step into this car you immediately feel space and openness. It has a classy look inside with zebrano wood trim and wood steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. The seats are large and comfortable. The driver's seat has computerized settings to allow a memory position for two different drivers. The steering wheel power glides and tilts. The dash has easy-to-read dials. The controls are within easy reach.
   Standard features include front and back climate controls, massaging lumbar control and ample fold-down storage units in the front and back. The rear-seat passengers have great forward visibility, heated seats and power lumbar adjustments. My test model had rear seat air bags, which added $295 to the price. Also included are power and heated rear view mirrors, power locks, power windows and remote keyless entry.
   The OnStar® system is also standard and is located in the rear view mirror with an on and off switch. This system connects to a center in Detroit that helps drivers with directions, locking and unlocking the car, calling for emergency help and locating the car if it is stolen.
   My DeVille came with the optional feature, Night Vision. It is the first automotive application of a thermal-imaging technology that assists drivers in seeing objects beyond headlight range during night time driving. This feature adds $1,995 to the price.
   The feature I found especially helpful was the Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist. Sensors on the rear bumper space that beeped when you backing up and are too close to an object.
   The trunk is spacious and easily accessible with a low lift-over edge. It has a pass-through for long items.
   I test drove the DeVille High Luxury Sedan (DHS). Two other models available: DeVille and DeVille Touring Sedan (DTS).
   Add to these proven safety-cage construction, leading-edge passive restraints, a CD-based navigation system and OnStar, the revolutionary information and communications service, and the 2000 DeVille could arguably be the safest car on the road.
   StabiliTrak 2.0, the next evolution of Cadillac's world-class stability-control system, makes DeVille's handling even more predictable and consistent under all driving conditions and road surfaces. This enhanced version adds both side-slip rate control and active steering effort compensation. StabiliTrak 2.0 is standard on DTS and optional on DeVille and DHS.
   In addition to StabiliTrak 2.0, DTS is equipped with continuously variable road-sensing suspension (CVRSS) 2.0. This enhanced system adds three significant improvements ‹transient roll control, lateral support and stability control interaction.
   DeVille is renowned for unsurpassed levels of comfort and convenience.
   DeVille regularly earns high marks in the most respected independent quality rankings. DeVille perennially ranks best in class, and among all cars it ranked second only to Lexus LS400 in the 1998 and 1999 J.D. Power & Associates surveys on five-year dependability. The DeVille engineering team established world-class quality as a top priority as part of an effort to attract import sedan buyers who cherish well-built cars.
   The 2000 DeVille was designed to continue to lead the full-size luxury car segment by attracting two groups of customers: pre-boomers and boomers. Pre-boomers represent DeVille's traditional customer base, while boomers are gradually becoming a dominant force in the luxury market.
   DeVille's current owners, numbering nearly two million, are remarkably loyal. Their loyalty has helped make DeVille one of the strongest, most enduring brands in the automotive industry as well as America's No. 1 selling luxury car for the past 14 years. More than half of those who buy DeVilles return to buy or lease another one from their dealer. Sixty-nine percent stay with Cadillac, and 84 percent choose a GM product when they trade in a DeVille.
   By 2005, almost 40 percent of the buyers in DeVille's segment will be boomers, most of whom have driven imports at some time. These customers are accustomed to commuting and working long hours, and they often struggle to find a balance in their lifestyles. They appreciate understated style and technology ‹ especially technology designed to make their busy lives easier.
   Instead of creating a wide chasm between the previous DeVille and the 2000 version, Cadillac chose a bridge strategy that began with styling enhancements to the 1997 DeVille. Since then, extensive product improvements were introduced to update DeVille's image and set the stage for an all-new model. These improvements included the OnStar communications system, StabiliTrak stability enhancement system, side-impact air bags and structural improvements. In addition, the introduction of the five-passenger Concours was designed to appeal to younger buyers with its surprisingly good ride and handling.
   With the goal to appeal to both traditional and younger customers, the 2000 DeVille brings handling and control that will impress demanding drivers, excellent performance, contemporary styling and technology with real customer benefits. The DeVille Touring Sedan (DTS) is specifically aimed at boomers who are moving into the segment.
   Customer research defined the engineering targets for the 2000 DeVille as a balance of dynamic characteristics (ride, handling and accident avoidance); comfort and convenience; safety and security; freedom from noise; quality, reliability and durability; excellent roominess and packaging; and contemporary styling.
   Chief competitors for the DeVille include the Lincoln Town Car and Chrysler LHS. The DTS will compete with the Lexus LS400 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
   The introduction of the 2000 DeVille continues a revitalization of Cadillac that is leading luxury vehicle customers to take a fresh look at the brand. This evolution began with the successful global introduction of the 1998 Seville. The luxury sport-utility vehicle Escalade, Cadillac's first entry ever into the U.S. truck market, debuted in the 1999 model year.
   In 1999, Cadillac also gained widespread attention with the introduction of the Evoq concept roadster, an embodiment of Cadillac's "art and science" vision for its future products. In addition, Cadillac unveiled the Catera Sport and Catera Steinmetz concept car, and announced that Cadillac will race at Le Mans in the 24 Hours race in June 2000.
   Although DeVille is primarily intended for the North American market, it will also satisfy niche-market demand for chauffeur-driven sedans in the Middle East, Japan and other markets.
   The 2000 DeVille continues a proud heritage that began in the 1949 model year, when the first Coupe de Ville debuted with landmark body styling and a revolutionary engine. Since then, DeVille has continued to establish technological and styling milestones that have helped distinguish Cadillac from other luxury automakers.
   The line's history begins with the 1949 Coupe de Ville, a stunningly attractive breakthrough in body design. The Coupe de Ville was the first pillarless two-door hardtop, a style also referred to as a "hardtop convertible."
   The first production Cadillac Coupe de Villes were constructed by adding a fixed steel roof to existing convertible coachwork. Frame reinforcements were eliminated because the graceful roof arch added substantial stiffness to the convertible body. Sashless door glass and quarter-window hardware from the convertible worked perfectly to combine the style of an open car with the practicality of enclosed bodywork. The first Coupe de Ville also featured Cadillac's renowned tail fins, which were originally introduced on the first post-war design Cadillacs in 1948.
   The first Coupe de Ville also came with the breakthrough overhead-valve, high compression V8 engine that Cadillac introduced in the 1949 model year. Rated at 160 horsepower, the 331-cubic-inch (5.4-liter) engine was more compact, lighter, more powerful and consumed less fuel than its predecessor L-head engine.
   The new engine soon distinguished itself in racing. Briggs Cunningham entered a Coupe de Ville in the 24 Hours race at Le Mans in 1950, and finished 10th overall in competition against pure racecars.
   The 1949 Coupe de Ville earned Motor Trend's first-ever "Car of the Year" award. Because of a late introduction, only 2,150 Coupe de Villes were built in 1949. By 1950, the popularity of Coupe de Ville helped propel Cadillac sales past the 100,000 mark for the first time in its history.
   In Cadillac's golden anniversary year of 1952, the Coupe de Ville and other Cadillacs received a new four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, helping to net a 30 horsepower increase. A new dual-range Hydra-Matic transmission allowed manual control over third and fourth gears, and power steering appeared in Cadillac models for the first time.
   During the 1950s, Cadillac made major strides in luxury and safety. Air conditioning became an official factory option in 1953, the same year Cadillac introduced an "autronic eye" that automatically dimmed high-beam headlights with oncoming traffic. A dual-zone heating system, a one-touch system for washing and wiping the windshield, a padded instrument panel cover, power brakes, power windows and power seats debuted in 1954.
   Harley Earl, General Motors' chief designer, came up with the idea of a four-door hardtop, called the Cadillac Orleans, for the 1953 GM Motorama tour. Earl noted that showgoers were fascinated by the prospects of four doors, four seats, a fixed metal roof and the dramatic styling opportunities provided by pillarless construction.
   This set the stage for the next use of the de Ville name with the introduction of the four-door hardtop Sedan de Ville in the 1956 model year. It was an immediate hit with customers, outselling every other Cadillac in its introductory year, and helping drive Cadillac sales past 150,000 units for the first time.
   A noteworthy de Ville engineering advancement in 1957 was the tubular X-shaped frame, which increased structural rigidity and allowed for lower body lines. Cadillac models in that year also were equipped with a foot-operated parking brake that automatically released when the transmission was shifted into gear.
   Customers were offered a choice of four or six side windows in 1959-64 Sedan de Villes. Tail fins reached their zenith on 1959 de Ville models, as well as other Cadillacs. Self-adjusting brakes were adopted in 1960. The following year saw the debut of the rear window defogger and factory-installed safety seat belts. An AM/FM transistorized radio was first offered as an option in 1963.
   In 1963, Cadillac thoroughly revised its V8 engine with a new block that was lower, shorter, stiffer and lighter, and a cast iron crankshaft that was also lighter and stiffer. In 1964, bore and stroke dimensions were increased to raise the displacement of the engine to 429 cubic inches. This engine delivered its power through a new turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, a Cadillac first. Also in 1964, Cadillac introduced comfort control automatic air conditioning and heating and Twilight Sentinel, which automatically turned headlights on at dusk and off at sunrise.
   A convertible de Ville joined the lineup from 1964 through 1970. A variation in the roofline theme introduced for the 1965 Sedan de Ville (lasting through 1970) was a frameless door glass with a fixed central roof pillar.
   A major restyling in 1965 eliminated the famous Cadillac tail fins and made Cadillacs look longer and lower. Styling was more angular. Vertical taillights were introduced, and became a recognizable part of Cadillac styling. A new perimeter frame provided improved side-impact protection. In the same year, the introduction of Delco Superlift rear shock absorbers provided automatic load-leveling capability, and a tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment was also added.
   Significant safety enhancements were made in 1967, with the addition of large padded instrument panels, recessed knobs, an energy-absorbing steering column, locks on the folding seatbacks, padded sun visors and a padded rearview mirror.
   Engine displacement continued to grow during the 1960s, and the industry's largest engine, a 472-cubic-inch (7.7-liter) V8 that delivered 375 horsepower, was introduced in 1968 models.
   The de Ville family was narrowed to two models starting in 1971 ‹ pillarless two- and four-door body styles ‹ as part of a sweeping redesign of all Cadillacs. The new models sported a trimmer, more youthful appearance based on the "fuselage" design concept. The 1971 models also were marked by the introduction of computerized anti-lock rear brakes as optional equipment.
   During the early 1970s, de Villes accounted for more than two-thirds of the division's sales volume. Almost 100,000 Sedan de Villes were sold in 1972, making it far and away the world's most popular luxury car. The following year, the Coupe de Ville shattered that record with nearly 113,000 sales. The five-millionth Cadillac manufactured was a 1973 Sedan de Ville.
   In spite of the energy crisis that began in 1973, DeVille moved to 500-cubic-inch (8.2-liter) V8 power. The addition of high-energy electronic ignition, optional electronic fuel injection and the first catalytic converters helped boost fuel efficiency.
   In 1977, Cadillac models got shorter, lighter and significantly more energy efficient. Piston displacement was reduced to 425 cubic inches (7.0 liters). One sacrifice was hardtop styling; that look left the Coupe de Ville after the 1973 model year, and Sedan de Villes adopted full-frame doors and a fixed B-pillar for 1977.
   In a major move toward modernization, Coupe and Sedan de Ville models shifted to an all-new transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive chassis in 1985. While preserving interior room and comfort, the new design reduced curb weight by more than 600 pounds and overall length by 26 inches. Under the hood, customers could choose between a 4.1-liter fuel injected gasoline V8 or a 4.3-liter diesel V6.
   In 1993, Cadillac began rolling out the Northstar System, which would become the auto industry's most highly regarded name in powertrain and chassis equipment. The foundation was the 4.6-liter 32-valve DOHC V8 engine introduced for the 1993 Seville, extended to the DeVille Concours a year later, and made standard for all DeVilles in 1996 (the style for the name changed to "DeVille" in 1994).
   A sophisticated electronically managed 4T80-E four-speed automatic transmission was part of that innovative powertrain. Road-sensing suspension ‹ shock absorbers able to react instantly to changing road and driving circumstances ‹ also was introduced and was subsequently upgraded to continuously variable capability. Chassis elements added as part of the Northstar System include speed-sensitive steering, anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability enhancement. The Class II computer communications network linking these major subsystems together permits data exchange at the rate of 10,400 bytes per second so that various elements can interact to improve comfort, safety and performance.
   In the last major DeVille redesign in 1994, Cadillac focused on a single DeVille body style ‹ the four-door sedan ‹ in response to customer tastes. Interior and exterior dimensions both were stretched to emphasize comfort, elegance and classic Cadillac road presence. StabiliTrak, Cadillac's innovative stability-enhancement system, was offered on the DeVille Concours in 1997 and extended to DeVille and DeVille d'Elegance the following year.